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JEFFERSON — Ashe County Sheriff’s Office is trading in its old .45-caliber firearms for newer 9mm handguns, as approved by the Ashe County Board of Commissioners during its regular meeting Monday, May 20.

The cost of trading out the ACSO armory will be $815, using a stockpile of firearms confiscated during years of law enforcement to supplement the cost of the new weapons, according to Sheriff B. Phil Howell.

In total, ACSO is trading in its arsenal of 32 Glock .45-caliber handguns, plus ammunition and 68 confiscated weapons to Craig’s Firearm Supply, a state-certified dealer, in exchange for newer 9mm guns, Howell said.

ACSO Chief Deputy Danny Houck said the trade would result in overall savings for the department, since state-contracted pricing puts 9mm rounds at 26 cents each, while .45-caliber rounds are 33 cents each. Deputy training and qualification requires officers to shoot about 500 rounds per year, so the switch to 9mm guns represents $840 in savings per year for each officer, according to Houck.

In addition to the cost savings, 9mm weapons are slightly smaller, and the new guns will have flashlights equipped, reducing liability by enabling deputies to make the best decision before pulling the trigger, Houck said. Most agencies in North Carolina have switched to 9mm firearms because they are more accessible, and the stopping power is same as .45-caliber guns, according to Houck.

The new guns will come with new holsters, priced at $117 each, Houck said.

Commissioner Chairman Todd McNeill said State Highway Patrol changes out firearms every four to five years, and Howell noted that ACSO has been using guns that are significantly older than the recommended 10-year lifespan for sheriff’s offices.

The commissioners unanimously approved resolutions permitting ACSO to list its weaponry as excess property for sale, enabling the department to trade the guns for new ones at a cost to the county of less than $1,000.

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